Photo slideshow: Tates Creek tops PRP in state tourney quarterfinals
The hometown team will be around for at least one more day.
Tates Creek, ranked fourth in the final coaches’ poll of the season, defeated No. 18 Pleasure Ridge Park, 3-2, to advance to the semifinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament. The Commodores are scheduled to play Breckinridge County at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
PRP over the final four innings came up with only two base runners after Tates Creek took the lead for good on a Blayne Deaton single in the bottom of the third. Konnor Lewis went 6 2/3 innings for the Commodores, striking out eight and giving up three hits before hitting his pitch-count limit.
Eli Tencza came on for the final out; he surrendered a single to Cooper Haycraft before a flyout to center field put Creek into the semifinals for the first time since 1990, when current head coach Larry Poynter was a star catcher for the Commodores.
Tates Creek made consecutive state tournaments in 2013 and 2014 but lost in the first round. This is its first trip since then.
“This group’s had talent for a long time, and I’d consider it a fluke these last two years getting beat in the first round of the district every single time,” said Noah Blythe, a senior. “We’re finally on this stage — we made it through district, we made it through region — and we’re just gonna try to keep rolling. We’re gonna make the most of it while we’re here.”
Tencza sent a double deep into center-left to score two Commodores — Deaton, who singled, and Griffin Prince, a courtesy runner for Colin Burgess after he singled — in the bottom of the first.
PRP stranded base-runners at third in the first two innings before striking in the third. Both Haycraft and Jarrett Troklus got on after being hit by pitches. Dylan Carnes hit a two-out double, tying the game 2-2 before a grounder finished the frame. Blythe got on via a throwing error and Burgess singled before a Deaton single was fielded, but then dropped in left, to put the Commodores back in front in the bottom of the inning.
The Panthers went down in order in the fourth and fifth. A fielding error allowed James Wilson to get on with two outs in the sixth, ending a streak of nine straight retired hitters, but he turned out to be the next-to-last Panther to reach in the contest.
Barring several days of postponements due to weather, Lewis, a junior who’s committed to Wichita State, won’t make another appearance on the mound for Tates Creek. He’d love to pitch again for the Commodores.
“A little bit,” Lewis said when asked if he’s rooting for rain. “But I have trust in our team and I believe we can do it.”